2021 El Cajon Mountain (and then some!)

Peak Summited2021 El Cajon Mountain
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadEl Capitan Open Space Preserve Parking Lot, Wildcat Canyon Road
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusNo bugs
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition
Additional Informationhttps://www.instagram.com/coachdalehill/

I arrived at the trailhead a little before 10 am, I parked on the road vice the county parking lot just in case I wasn't back by 4:30 when they lock the gate. I always get lazy at the start of El Cajon because the trailhead is so close to home, as a result, I always end up finishing in the dark 🤣That's okay though, the sunsets are amazing and with lights, it's no biggie. I decided to do a little extra on today's hike to include a little side trip up to P3367 better known as El Capitan, it only added a half-mile to my overall trip but it was cool to check out.

This is another one of those peaks that I did early in 2020 and really wasn't dialed into looking for the survey marks, today my goal was to recover all 4: the station disc and two reference marks at the summit and the Azimuth marker that was about ½-mile due east of the station disc. The first three were easily recovered at the summit before a took my lunch break. After lunch and some time visiting with other hikers, I decided to set out for the Azimuth mark figuring that it was only a ½-mile away and it couldn't be that hard to locate. I had the compass bearing from the station disc and I set out due-east, quickly running into thick manzanita and thorny chaparral that went from knee-high to shoulder height and higher.

I bushwhacked downhill to the supposed location of the mark, cutting through the thicket, scrambling over boulders, and sliding down the hill, after more than an hour to go the ½-mile, I couldn't find the boulder with the disc! It would take me almost an hour to scramble back up to the El Cajon summit to start my return trip to the truck. I started down right at 4:30 (as the parking lot was being locked! THAT's why I park on the road🤣) I made good time on the return trip, covering the 5 miles of county-maintained trail in 2 hours flat, an hour of that under lights.

The only people I saw on my return trip was a group of two families (4 adults, 2 toddlers, and a boy about 7) I had passed them on the way up the trail earlier in the day. I had found one of the little one's sunglasses on my way down the trail so I returned those, checked to make sure they were okay with water, snacks, batteries, etc. before heading past them. They assured me they were doing well and replied “it just takes more time when we let the little ones walk.” I took my time stowing my gear once back at the truck and waited a bit until I could see their headlamps bobbing down the last section of the trail before heading home.


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